NFR The ethics of elephant hunting: Where is your line in the sand?

We are all involved in a blood sport(hobby) so I thought I would pose this question to you all. The recent hunting excursion, followed by public outrage for various reasons, of the king of Spain has again brought to light the reality of elephant hunting. Elephant populations are not endangered at all in many African countries, so the question of extinction or endangerment is not there. Hunting elephants as it has been regulated for the last 15 or so years does not seem to be causing problems among their populations. In fact some argue the populations need to be controlled. I suppose my question is where and if you draw a line with the hunting of certain animals. Could you hunt an elephant? If not, are you ok with others doing it? I am pro gun, pro conceal and carry, pro ecologically responsible hunting, but I simply cannot imagine putting down an animal that displays the intelligence of an elephant for trophy animal that grieves deaths in the family. If chimps and orangutans were as abundant would you be ok with hunting them. I'd like to hear your thoughts and reasons. Let's keep all opinions in reference to the act itself, rather than attack individuals for how they feel.

Jeff Studebaker

Kayak Fly Angler
I'd have to be really, really hungry.

But seriously, I've witnessed elephants take up a brush and turn a blank canvas into a picture of plants with flowers – not some vague splotches, but lines and shapes that could not be mistaken for anything other than stems, leaves and different colored flowers.

I trained for a few weeks at a mahout school in Thailand's Golden Triangle, and I can tell you, elephants are not only intelligent, they're funny, and they laugh. My elephant would purposely turn the wrong way during my tests and, when I started yelling at her, I swear she'd give this deep chuckling noise.

I'm also pro hunting. But if the King of Spain really needs to kill an elephant, he should have to eat it.
I'm pro hunting.
If it is legal to hunt an animal no matter what it is then have at it.
I personally would not hunt elephant. I don't hunt bears, or mountain lion.
I figure if your not gonna eat it, don't shoot it unless ya have to.

Rick Todd

Active Member
While I would not shoot an elephant, (or a buffalo in this country), I can see a valid use of hunting to cull herds of old and weak animals and I don't have a problem with others hunting these animals if it floats their boat. Rick


Idiot Savant
If I can't or don't want to eat it, I won't kill it...I see no use in killing merely for sport. As for anyone else, if they are within the law, let them hunt what they want.
Interesting topic. I'm a hunter and personally would have zero interest in an elephant hunt. But I do think it should be allowed with proper management. Similar to Bison "hunting" it's not really hunting but shooting. Banning certain hunting would open the flood gates to stopping "shooting hunts" like mountain lions, coyotes, bison, ect. Proper management must have its place in population control. I also think starting to ban "shooting hunts" would set a precedence for animal right groups and the far left agenda to attack ducks, geese, pheasants, elk and deer hunting next. Do I really need to shoot a pheasant or deer for food? No, it's really about the hunt.


Active Member
I don't hunt or fish for anything that I don't kill and eat, so I personally would not do so.

However based on what I know elephant hunts are huge boosts to the local economy. PHs, trackers and support staff are employed. As I understand it there is also a substantial trophy fee imposed by many countries which helps with conservation and land usage. I can definitely see its role in a community's economic well being, and subsequently the elephant's well being as they become a cash crop. AS a cash crop they have economic benefit, thereby insuring their species survival.
AS a cash crop they have economic benefit, thereby insuring their species survival.
I remember Peter Capstick writing of this very thing many, many years ago. He also made it very clear that in his mind at least there was a notable distinction between hunting and killing. He noted that "any bloody fool can murder an elephant from 200 yards with a lung shot..." He also noted wryly that the downside to elephant hunting was the very real possibility of winding up dead. From what I've read, death by elephant is pretty definitive.

Personally, I have zero interest in hunting elephants, but giving the conservation and economic issues due consideration, I have no problem with others doing it.--AJ

Alex MacDonald

that's His Lordship, to you.....
Given the fact that elephants are hunted in Africa when they become a problem for the local tribespeople, I'm all for it. It's a huge boon to the local economy, as has been mentioned, both in monetary terms and in the meat given to the local village. I have absolutely NO interest in hunting elephant, and I really don't like snakes! Two of my friends just returned from a safari (they own a local gun store); Surprise!! Spitting cobra at 6am!! No need for coffee after that!

Upton O

Blind hog fisherman
Hunting has been getting a lot of press lately: Trump's kids hunting, the King of Spain's elephant kill, the sci-fi book and movie The Hunger Games. I've done a little hunting in South Africa where there aren't any free range elephants any longer. I've done a lot of research on hunting in many other Africa countries, too. Here is what I know: the human population is rapidly expanding both in numbers and territory. The majority of the human populations in Africa are very poor. (I've been in a number of third world countries and nothing compared with what I saw in Africa).

There is a shortage of resources, particularly in the areas where the wild, free range elephants currently occupy. Elephants and humans are competing for more space every year and there ain't enough to go around. There are also increasing numbers of direct conflict with elephants and other animals raiding farms for the easy pickings. Additionally, elephants are very destructive to areas, primarily trees, and can alter normal vegetation succession when they exceed the carrying capacity of their habitat. Elephants are NOT an endangered species.

Dangerous game (elephant, black rhino, Cape buffalo, lion, leopard, hippo) as well as plains game hunters bring BIG dollars into these economically depressed areas just to shoot both trophy and non-tropy animals including bull elephants and tuskless elephants. Trohpy fees for bull elephants are huge, tuskless still significant but less. These fees also have VAT (value added tax) and this money goes to the government that country where it is used for a variety of needs including wildlife mangement. The money generated by hunters through trophy fees, daily hunting fees, transportation fees is greater per hunter than the money generated by "green" or "photo" safaris. In other words, hunting is good business, better than photo hunting. The areas that game is hunted is either private or owned by the government. Either way, the big game outfitters pay large bucks for the right to access those areas to hunt.

Another benefit of hunters going after elephants, hunting elephants requires covering miles and miles of area on foot and by vehicle. On these hunts the trackers and PH's (guides) are always on the watch for signs of poaching which is the biggest danger for all Africa wildlife. I saw the action of a PH one night coming back to the lodge when he saw a strange vehicle on the road. Made me wish I had an assault rifle in my lap rather than the bolt action I did have. There aren't any cops out in the bush.

As for the animals shot, believe me, every animal that hits the ground is consumed. Very little goes to waste. The hide is used, the meat is used, the guts are used. The bones? I imagine their calcium ends up back in the system somewhere.

I've thought about elephant hunting, what it would be like to be standing 20 yards from a 5-ton bull, head on. There is a part of me that wants to do it. On the other hand, I don't have the money, I don't think I have the cajones, and if my wife found out, I wouldn't have a wife. Plus, I'm not that mad at elephants. Here is something else, my PH (he is also a professional biologist) told me shooting a big bull isn't nearly as dangerous as working into a herd of cows with calves to shoot a calfless/tuskless elephant.

By the way, when they cull elephants, they don't shoot the old and the sick. It consists of a number of men with very large caliber rifles who know how to shoot them. They approach a herd and then they shoot cows, calves, bulls, any elephant that is in range. I've seen the video of a elephant cull, it ain't pretty. It is much better to let a single hunter that one animal at a time. Better business, too.
A number of us have said that we won't shoot what we won't eat. I feel the same way, but I don't think that applies in all cases. I have shot hundreds of ground squirrel's, but have yet to taste one. I know that many of us have shot those little critters, along with crows and other animals/birds that we perceive as vermin. And nary a one makes it into the pot. Maybe it just honorable to say we wouldn't shoot an elephant or a bear because we wouldn't eat it. And that may be a good thing---but it isn't always what happens.....good or bad, that is the way it is sometimes........

Jim Ficklin

Genuine Montana Fossil
I hunt. I do so ethically & have no problem with others who hunt ethically pursuing the legal species of their choice. I have never had the desire to hunt elephants, but I'm sure that I pursue/have pursued species that others don't. And as Karl stated, I don't have the wherewithal to finance an African safari, nor do I have the steel at 64 that I once did to stalk & stand within yards of a large bull or any of the other Big Five.

Upton O

Blind hog fisherman
Terry, I ain't mad at the ducks, I eat'm, it's those damn geese I don't like. Too much goose feces in parks, etc. I've actually been attacked by a Canada goose, I used an upward butt stroke to get it off of me, then it was hand to neck combat. It went into the sausage meat cache, too.

Alex MacDonald

that's His Lordship, to you.....
When I used to run around the UCD Arboretum at noon, we had a domestic goose who'd go after us. One day he locked into my shoelace, and was a little slow backing away. I agree, their necks aren't as tough as the geese think they are.... But it did cut down on the amount of goose shit on the path!